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						Ac Aceca
Ford-ified 1958 AC Aceca

Ford 289-powered AC Aceca coupe for sale

By Dean Larson

Photos: Seller, eBay

The AC Aceca (pronounced A-See-Ka) is a car without equal. On the surface you have the loose lineage connecting it to the AC Ace and Carroll Shelby’s V8-powered Cobras, but the Aceca is also more than able to stand on its own. An enthralling combination of something new and something old, age has elevated the car from humble Brit hatchback to a serious blue-chip collector. This ’58 model on eBay has some years and miles under its belt, not to mention a Ford V8 engine swap, begging the question, is this a bastardized classic or your cheap ticket into the AC Cobra game. Let’s dig in.

Of course the Aceca traces its lineage through the AC Ace, the company’s most sensational offering in the pivotal post-war market. The design came from talented hands of John Tojeiro, who penned a simple, ladder-type chassis with transverse leaf-spring suspension and a simple aluminum roadster body.

Production started in 1953 with AC’s existing 2.0-liter overhead cam straight-six, good for around 100 hp. Performance figures were acceptable for the time, with a top speed of around 103 mph and a 0-60 time of 11.4 seconds. It was clear however that the pre-war 2.0-liter was getting a bit long in the tooth, and AC sought a replacement engine by 1956. The answer came in the form of Bristol Cars’ 2.0-liter straight-six equipped with three downdraft carburetors, good for 120 hp. The engine also came with a new four-speed transmission with optional overdrive, further improving top speed and acceleration. To this day, Bristol-engine cars command a premium over their early AC-powered counterparts.

But of course the charming Aceca is the point of today’s conversation, which was a stylish and functional addition to the AC lineup in 1954. A striking fastback roofline was added to the AC body with a hatchback rear, the second car to ever feature one after the Aston DB2/4. Like the Ace, the Aceca was offered with the AC and Bristol engines, the latter of which added $1,000 to the price tag. It seems roughly 151 AC-engine cars left the factory, 169 Bristol-engine cars were produced and a handful were sold with Ford 2.6-liter Zephyr engines.

Quite possibly the most interesting aspect of the Aceca is the influence of its design. The car started production in 1954, and its looks would go on to influence so many other significant automobiles. From different angles you'll be reminded of the Aston DB4, Jaguar E-Type, late ’50s Ferrari and Triumph GT6 — not to mention the early hardtop-equipped Cobras.

The Aceca we’re looking at today was originally an AC-powered export model, designated by the AE and X digits in its VIN respectively (AEX659). The known history on the car starts around 1973, when it was purchased by a young couple at the Kirk F. White Auction in Philadelphia as a second car. It was used as a commuter for around 10 years, but remained with its owners for a total of 46 years. But not all is at it seems on the surface.

For one reason or another, the Aceca’s owners swapped out the AC 2.0-liter for the ubiquitous Ford 289 small-block (and seemingly) the TopLoader four-speed as well. Could it be that the owners wanted to inject a bit of Shelby-inspired performance in their aging Aceca? Possibly. The Shelby shift knob, Cobra valve covers and decal on the rear window would support that claim, but something tells me the truth of the matter is a bit more gray.

My guess is that the AC engine was a bit tired by the late 1970s, and a friend of the owner cracked wise about ‘replacing that boat-anchor six-cylinder with a tried-and-true 289.’ After all, Carroll Shelby did it, and I’m sure spares for the AC 2.0-liter were a bit hard to find in the states at the time. And a boost of 125 hp probably felt like a tidal wave of power in the lightweight Aceca.

Obviously this has a negative impact on the value of the car though, as buyers who are willing to shell out six figures for a quirky Cobra ancestor probably value originality. Values of AC Acecas fluctuate pretty significantly from $100,000 to beyond $250,000, with highly original Bristol-engine cars with overdrive bagging the best sale prices. Your average driver-quality Aceca with an AC engine may grab $150,000 or less though, making them an enticing investment opportunity.

The car we’re looking at today on eBay is obviously a little tough to value, knowing that the correct AC driveline is gone and the car needs quite a bit of tiding up. Furthermore, a May 2019 article on motorious.com suggests that the seller was asking $238,200 for the car, far exceeding most bluebook value estimates.

If you could bag it for a reasonable figure, under $150,000 based on other known sales, you could have a fun little driver on your hands. Drive it here and there on the weekends with the 289 for that nostalgic feeling of Shelby history, all the while watching out for a replacement AC 2.0-liter. That's what I'd do in a perfect word anyway.

Hypotheticals aside, the car is being offered for sale here on eBay with a current bid of $55,000. What will the owner actually be willing to cut it loose for? I guess there's only one way to find out.

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